We raced against the rain on Sunday, baling and pulling and lifting and heaving and stacking and storing hay. Hearts pumping, whole bodies sweating, muscles burning, the heavens began trickling and I prayed for just a few more minutes of grace so our harvest would not get soaked. Because wet hay is hazardous hay. Not only does it mold, ruining for horse consumption, wet hay can spontaneously combust, burning its storehouse to the ground in minutes and any horses stalled inside along with it. Such tragedies occur every year.
So we were body and soul focused on storing dry hay that day, as fast as we could. Over 600 bales in two days, our year’s supply, we put up, each around 40 pounds. In less than an hour, our barn was stacked full of sustenance—169 bales—and I knew we were set for feeding our herd October through May as usual. In less than an hour, my lungs ached; my legs were scratched, poked, and bleeding red. Right ankle was already purple bruised from slipping through a wooden pallet while heaving a heavy bale upward and scraping hard on the side. And I was covered with hay dust, itching. Storing up is good, but painful, when it comes to hay.
But what about storing up spiritual? What about storing up for the future to assuage our inner angst about a billion things that can go wrong in life and squeeze the peace clean out of our hearts?
We know. In the deepest parts of our souls we know. We are vulnerable. We are not in control as we want. We need assurance. We need safety. We want to know all will be alright, come what may.
I talk with lots of people whose insides rattle with anxiety about the future. How we hate the unknown. How we want to know—we NEED to know—all will be well with us and our loved ones.
But we know. We know better. We know painful happens. We know our hearts our fragile and can be shattered quick by worry and circumstance we dread. So what do we do?
We try to control. It’s tempting to store up, to shore up, to callous up, to protect ourselves from our dread. But dread still stands knocking with its delivery of anxiety in hand. We bolt the door. We try to ignore the knocking. We store up even more trying to keep that angst at bay. And it’s not just money we store—that false sense of security. It’s power and prestige and accomplishment and social positioning and anything else we scramble for to shoo away angst.
The what-ifs haunt. We know. Unwanted visitors come. We see it in the lives of others and we shudder because we know. That could be us. That MIGHT become us! Then what? Money and power and prestige and accomplishment only go so far when disappointment or disaster strikes and shows that nothing on earth is as powerful as the hand of heaven. Nothing on earth can shore up peace that heals angst in moments of despair when we come face-to-face with our absolute weakness, stripped of all we use to try and stay strong. We know. Somewhere in the recess of our souls, we know we are NOT invincible.
And we can’t store up God’s grace. His grace is abundant but we cannot store it up. Because if we could, we would become lovers of the grace and not lovers of the Grace-Giver. How we perpetually seek second best—the goods, not the relationship.
As hard as it is to let go of the goods, letting go is FOR our good. Because only in tethering our hearts and souls to the One who made them, do our souls find true rest. Inner angst is healed, replaced with calm assurance.
“My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9
There is something so freeing in realizing circumstances are beyond my ability to control but never beyond God’s ability to use for good, no matter who awful they appear on the surface, not matter how painful. His grace is sufficient. His grace is sufficient in the moment, day-by-day, even as He fed the Israelites by His holy hand, providing manna sustenance in barren places, day-by-day. His mercy was new every morning. And He warned them not to worry about storing up. Fresh supplies would come. They were encouraged to have faith in their loving, providing, heavenly Father, who knows our every need. And often difficulties teach us the difference between wants and true needs. Isn’t our truest, deepest need, to be at peace? Don’t we want more than anything to be done with angst that eats us alive? Don’t we want true soul rest, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, that come what may, we are held in the hand of the Holy who is mighty to save, mighty to grow, mighty to love us straight through anything and bring us out better, stronger people who know Him more, who love Him more?
Today, 30 kids and staff from inner-city Milwaukee come to our farm in a few hours for a day of God discovery in the wonder of His creation—our farm of 44 acres. Ponds with cattails, trails for hayrides, horses to ride, field games to play, good food to eat, songs to sing, and best of all—salve for souls—the true word of God with the power to heal all angst because His word can lead us straight to His heart, if we’re willing to go. Anything can happen today. Severe thunderstorms are predicted. Volunteers may not show up. Horses might be cranky. ATV might break down. I might totally blank on the lesson I have prepared. Or God might just intervene and change my lesson at the last minute (which my flesh thinks is hell on earth because I soooo like to be absolutely prepared!). But I smile. Because I’ve been working with God for so many years and I know His ways. Often, He just mixes up my plans to show me He has a better idea and that all I need do is go with His flow and let Him delight me. And when I do, I calm and I fill full of His grace and it’s not just others who are given good, it’s me. Because deep down, I want the peace of knowing—of really knowing—that God is true to His promises. He truly does work all things for good—for His holy purposes. And when I can rest in knowing I don’t have to store up grace—that He offers a never-ending, rich supply—then, I am truly at peace. And I never have to worry one bit about tomorrow because He is the God of tomorrow and all tomorrows are in His hand.
Tomorrow, I will write about what God does today. I can’t wait to find out! You?
And the next day? I begin a series on our adoption journey and how God grew me to know and rely on His grace—His daily grace—which has healed my anxieties in the midst of great trials and even greater unknowns. It is an amazing story of HIS amazing grace. Join me? Be blessed? Learn the secret of vanquishing anxiety, day-by-day, moment-by-moment?